An unexpectedly nice board

Yesterday I went into the shop to work on an fun project, a shelf with some kind of cubbies for my standup desk. I thought I might use this big old board I found in the yard when we moved into our apartment. It was nice and straight, but covered with years of mold and gunk. About two inches thick, it looked like it could be resawn down into a lot of good one inch thick stock.


So I got out the hand plane and cleaned it up a little just to see what was underneath.


What was underneath turned out to be really special. I’m not sure whether it’s the red or white species but this is definitely oak, about 80″ by 10″ by 2″ of it. Maybe a little too nice for my standup desk. What I’ll probably do is make a plywood version—then if it fits well and turns into a piece of furniture I want to have for many years, I’ll do the oak one.


Woodworking is interesting this way—the materials can surprise you by revealing hidden properties that elevate or diminish them. You can run into a nail or a knot that can ruin your day.

Programming is more predictable. Bits can ruin your day, but not by having unexpected properties. In general, this is obviously a good thing, but I think that in my case it sometimes perpetuates the illusion that I’m in control of things, where woodworking keeps me more grounded.